JV Ejercito warns of 'power monopoly' with Jinggoy Estrada Senate bid

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 12) — Reelectionist Senator JV Ejercito was visibly surprised when his estranged half-brother, senatorial bet Jinggoy Estrada, raised his arm as a sign of support and endorsement.

The two candidates are both vying for the 12 Senate seats under regional political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP). The feuding brothers shared the stage at the kickoff event in San Fernando, Pampanga. After Ejercito was introduced and called on stage, Estrada stood up to follow his brother, then raised his arm.

Ejercito said this was possibly the first time they've been together in decades.

"Talagang nagulat ako pero nagpapasalamat ako. Pero ganun pa rin, syempre may the best candidate win," he told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: I was surprised, but I'm thankful. But may the best candidate win.]

When asked if he is endorsing Estrada in return, he pointed out his stand against political dynasties and monopoly in the government.

"We have a current disagreement with my father, with my brother... I still believe only one should run. There's only 24 seats. One hundred million ang Pilipino, so wala naman sigurong dapat mag-monopolyo ng kapangyarihan," the senator said.

[Translation: I am having disagreements with my father and my brother. I still believe only one should run. There's only 24 Senate seats. There are 100 million Filipinos. No one should monopolize power.]

Ejercito and Estrada are the sons of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada.

Ejercito is seeking re-election, while Estrada is out on bail after a three-year detention for his alleged involvement in the multi-billion pork barrel scam. He posted bail in September 2017 after he was accused of receiving P183 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel.

During the HNP event, Estrada said he and fellow HNP bet and plunder-accused Bong Revilla were victims of selective justice by the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III.

"Wala kaming kasalanan sa taumbayan. Napag-initan lang kami ng administrasyon. Siguro ayaw nila kumandidato ang magagandang lalaki sa Senado. Inggitero ang mga opisyal ng nakaraang admin," he said.

[Translation: We have not done anything against the Filipinos. The former administration did not want us, good-looking men, to run in the Senate. They were jealous of us.]

CNN Philippines correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.